I admit I’m rather a demanding consumer. I’m pretty sure I get it from my mom. She’s one of the world’s all time greatest when it comes to being a demanding customer.
And I think it’s good there are people like us around. No one else can offer businesses the quality of advice that their demanding customers can. They should thank us.
Most companies either ignore or barely tolerate demanding customers. They fail to train their employees how to deal with us. Often their goal seems to be just to pacify us and get us to shut up rather than really understand the problem and try to do something about it.
Too often, their approach is to throw money at us rather than listen to our valuable feedback. Recently I had some copying done at a local office products store. They usually do a good job but this time they dropped the ball all over the place. It turned into a comedy of errors by the time it was over.
As I finished explaining to the manager the litany of problems, he ended by apologizing and offering me 25% off my next order.This is a common way for people to mollify customers wh’ve had problems.
But I don’t think it’s effective.There are two problems with this solution.
One is it ignores the current complaint. Instead of offering me a bribe to come back, tell me you’re going to take action to prevent this from happening again. Or at least tell me you’ll try.
Deal with my complaint. Don’t just throw money at me.
The second problem with this solution is it does nothing for me now. And if I’m upset because someone has wasted my time or inconvenienced me, then I want something now. If you don’t do the right thing I might not come back. In that case the 25% offer amounts to nothing.
So, if you want to compensate your customers when they get bad service (which is often a good idea) then do something for them now. Don’t play games.
When someone offers me a discount on a future purchase, it tells me they are thinking of themselves, not me. Their offer is designed to get me to come back. In other words, their focus is on themselves, not on the customer.
If they were focused on the customer (me) they would address the problem now and they would compensate me now.
Another things happens when you offer a discount on a future purchase as compensation for a problem. Assuming the customer does come back, if they use the discount, they are reminded of the poor service they got last time. So to a certain extent, they get to relive the problem.
Is that what we really want?
No, we don’t. What we want is for our customer to have a great experience so they come back because they WANT to come back. If they have to be bribed to come back then how loyal will they be once the bribes stop?